Part II: Tech Trends That Are Changing the World for Animals—for the Better!

By Jen Bravo, Guest Contributor

In Part I of our Tech Trends That Are Changing the World for Animals–for the Better!, we shared some exciting technology trends that are benefiting animals—including innovations around the future of protein—hint: it’s cruelty-free!—and how virtual entertainment and immersive experiences are changing how we will relate to animals, learn about them, and be entertained by them.

In this post, we’ll talk about ending animal testing—finally!—and how drones and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing anti-poaching and conservation efforts.

Organ On a Chip
Organ on a Chip (Photo: Vimeo)

Trend #3: Ending Animal Testing

Many of us have been fighting the practice of animal testing for decades. We’ve lobbied to change regulations (here, here, and here), rescued animals from laboratories, and educated our friends and family about buying cruelty-free products. The day is coming, however, when it’s cheaper and more efficient for companies to switch completely to new non-animal testing methods. Over the past few years, the development of human organs “on-a-chip” have begun to revolutionize disease modeling and drug development at an astonishing rate. At the same time, it’s revealing animal testing as the archaic and inaccurate practice that it is.

The Wyss Institute at Harvard University has “engineered microchips that recapitulate the microarchitecture and functions of living human organs, including the lung, intestine, kidney, skin, bone marrow, and blood-brain barrier. These microchips, called ‘organs-on-chips,’ offer a potential alternative to traditional animal testing.” By testing on replicas of human organs, rather than animals with a different physiology, researchers will increase the accuracy of their results, while reducing costs. The Wyss Institute isn’t the only one. Many companies are working through FDA approval processes and continuing to refine their innovations. And it gets better—companies like Emulate are finding ways to emulate the entire human body, opening doors for an improved understanding of how diseases, medicines, and our environment affect us, all without testing on any animals.

If you’re interested in learning more about these new technologies, IndieBio, a San Francisco-based biotech accelerator, will be highlighting Scaled Biolabs, a startup that is “accelerating biologic, gene, and cell therapies using smart microfluidic chips.” You can view IndieBio’s most recent Demo Day—February 9, 2017—here, which features Scaled Biolabs.

Sea Shepherd Drone (Photo: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)
Sea Shepherd Drone (Photo: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

Trend #4: Drones and Artificial Intelligence

No, this trend isn’t about SkyNet, and the Terminator isn’t coming for you (as far as I know). But if you’re an elephant or rhino poacher, a drone might be. Using drones to fight poaching isn’t new, but they’ve been highly effective, and that effectiveness will continue to improve with the use of smart systems and artificial intelligence. The Black Mambas—the celebrated majority-women anti-poaching unit in South Africa—are using drones to protect rhinos, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is using drones to patrol marine reserves in the Gulf of California. Legendary Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shephard has outfitted all of his ships with drones, arguing that advanced technology is the best way to combat poaching (see the link for “DIY drones” below). And Air Shepherd is using predictive algorithms, originally developed to locate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to predict where poachers will be located, then sending drones to patrol those areas. Artificial intelligence allows drones to recognize what’s important, saving precious bandwidth, and alerting rangers only when their help is needed. One example is the philanthropic arm of the Dutch company Birds.ai, which provides “intelligent eyes in the sky” to rangers protecting rhinos from poaching.

As predictive modeling and artificial intelligence improve, and as hardware costs of the drones themselves come down—and crafty rangers are able to DIY drones for one-tenth the cost!—our ability to stop poaching before it starts will continue to improve.

We all know that technology moves fast, but these “exponential” technologies—technologies that are improving in performance and decreasing in cost along an exponential curve—can surprise us with the speed at which they take off. So if 2017 has gotten you down, just think that these technologies are getting better and better, and cheaper and cheaper, at an exponential rate. The days of factory farming, zoos and animal shows, animal testing, and poaching are coming to an end…faster than we think.


February Giveaway—Vegan Tacos and Vegan Mexico Cookbooks

By Lori Stultz, Communications Manager

Mexican food lovers, this giveaway is for you!

Perhaps I should correct myself. Authentic Mexican food lovers, this giveaway is for you—no fresco-style crunchwraps here.

Today I have the honor of introducing the kind and talented, Chef Jason Wyrick, author of the two authentic Mexican food cookbooks we’ll be giving away this month—Vegan Tacos: Authentic and Inspired Recipes for Mexico’s Favorite Street Food and Vegan Mexico: Soul-Satisfying Regional Recipes from Tamales to Tostadas.

Before sharing what each cookbook has to offer, I’d encourage you to take a few minutes and browse around Jason’s website to check out his impressive list of accomplishments and services. He’s not only written these two well-known vegan cookbooks, he pioneered the first vegan food magazine, The Vegan Culinary Experience, he’s contributed to a whole host of vegan food and health publications, and he initiated the first vegan meal delivery service.

Lucky for me, I get the chance to meet Jason next week at the PHX Vegan Food Festival in Phoenix, AZ. He’ll be doing a cooking demonstration, and I’ll be there to report back how wonderful his Mexican food tastes. My prediction—it’s going to be delicious!

“Jason Wyrick showcases the liveliness of Mexican flavors and textures with recipes for traditional and creative tacos you can make at home, featuring your own homemade tortillas, salsas, and condiments. These recipes, based on genuine recipes gathered across Mexico, allow you to make authentic tacos using plant-based ingredients.”

Delicious meals you’ll have access to in Vegan Tacos include:

  • Tacos Mole with Seared Zucchini, Wilted Chard, and Pepitas
  • Tacos with Pintos Borrachos and Vegan Queso Fresco
  • Breakfast Tacos with Rajas, Mojo Scramble, and Pintos
  • Cinnamon Tortilla Tacos with Spicy Cajeta Apples, Pecans, and Agave Crema
  • And many more!

“A leading authority in vegan Mexican cooking, Chef Jason Wyrick shares the core concepts for making authentic Mexican cuisine and ties the recipes to their place in the story of Mexico. Readers will come away with a new appreciation of the diversity and flavors of Mexico and be inspired to make these delectable main dishes, soups, spreads, sandwiches, breads, desserts, and snacks at home.”

Delicious meals you’ll have access to in Vegan Mexico include:

  • Classic Sweet Corn Tamales
  • Old-Style Street Enchiladas
  • Sonoran Machaca Burritos
  • Tres Leches Cake
  • And many more!

This giveaway starts today, February 17, and ends Tuesday, February 28 at 12:00 am North American MST. We’ll announce the lucky winner on Friday, March 3. Enter by clicking on the giveaway link below!

Vegan Tacos and Vegan Mexico Cookbooks Giveaway


How I Accidentally Fed 150 Non-Veg Activists Vegan Food

By Lisa Rimmert, Director of Development

Recently, a few women in Denver, CO hosted a civic engagement event called, “March! Write! Unite!” They described it as a way to keep the momentum going after the Women’s March that happened worldwide on January 21. I’ve been experiencing a particularly high level of angst and determination, so when I saw the event on Facebook I decided to attend with a couple friends.

Writing Event
March! Write! Unite! Attendees

The event organizers had posted a list of items they hoped could be donated, and one of them was food. “Perfect!” I thought, or possibly exclaimed aloud as I’ve been known to talk at my computer from time to time. Since the election, I had been struggling with how—or even if—to connect my activism for animal rights and my activism for human rights. I know, I’m late to the game on this! A lot of people have been thinking about this and doing work on it for decades!

I thought this event presented a fantastic opportunity for me to bring human and animal rights together without co-opting the event in any way. I could provide food to nourish the activists who attended this human rights-centered event, and keep it human-centered while adding an element of animal rights in the form of vegan food!

I emailed one of the organizers and offered to provide food if she was okay with it being vegan. She was absolutely OK with it, especially because I was offering it free of charge!

What a success! The 50 or so people who had RSVPed on Facebook could eat delicious animal-friendly food while writing to their elected officials to voice concerns about a wide range of political issues! What could go wrong?

I’m glad you asked.

In the week leading up to the event, something wonderful and terrifying happened. While the list of attendees started small, the event spread quickly on Facebook and ended up with over 150 attendees! Obviously, this is great for civic engagement in Denver, but a little overwhelming for the poor sap who had agreed to provide food—yours truly.

Thankfully, my friends Sara and Kim were quick to offer help so we could still provide delicious vegan food to everyone! So, come January 29, about 150 mostly non-veg folks wrote letters to their elected officials—all while eating delicious vegan food!

Here’s a list of what we provided, with a recipe for the Curried Chicken Salad Wraps below—

  • I bought assorted vegan donuts from a vegan bakery in Denver called Beet Box Bakery. I cut them in half so more people could have some.
  • I prepared an easy veggie tray with red lentil hummus, carrots, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes. This was the least exciting dish, so I’m not sure I recommend it. Lesson learned!
  • I had a blast assembling mini fruit skewers the night before the event, with sliced strawberries, pineapples, and blueberries—red, white-ish, and blue.
  • I whipped up a cashew cheese spread and put spoonfuls of it into muffin cups with pretzels and crackers.
  • Kim made three kinds of mini muffins, mostly using ingredients she already had in her kitchen! She made blueberry lemon, banana nut, and cocoa spice muffins, and they were delicious.
  • I knew someone else was providing coffee, so I brought non-dairy creamer.
  • I messaged my VO colleague Alex Bury in a panic, and she gave me the recipe listed below for easy, make-ahead Curried Chicken Salad Wraps
Donuts
Tasty Vegan Donuts
Crackers and Pretzels atop Cashew Cheese Spread
Crackers and Pretzels atop Cashew Cheese Spread
Veggie Tray and Fruit Skewers
Chicken Curry Wraps
Curried Chicken Salad Wraps

Curried Chicken Salad Wraps

Yields 4-6 wraps.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons mild yellow curry powder
  • 2 cups Follow Your Heart Vegenaise
  • 1 package thawed Beyond Meat Chicken Strips (Lightly Seasoned or Grilled variety), diced
  • 2 stalks celery, washed and diced small (optional—you can skip the celery if you’re in a hurry!)
  • ½ yellow onion, finely diced (optional—also OK to skip)
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Red chili flakes (optional—if you like spicy food)
  • 1 package of your favorite wraps (recommended: Trader Joe’s Lavash Bread, flour tortillas, or big romaine lettuce leaves)

Directions

  1. Mix the curry powder and Vegenaise together in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients—except for the wraps—to make the curry salad. Mix well and taste. Add more salt if desired, and/or red chili flakes if you like spicy food.
  3. Place the tortilla or wrap on a clean surface. Add ½ cup curry salad. Roll it up like a burrito.
  4. This will make 4-6 wraps—depending on how full you make them—and they keep well overnight in the fridge. It’s also a great party appetizer! Serve in a large bowl surrounded by crackers.

Recipe Tips/Variations

  • Try adding sliced and toasted almonds, chopped fresh cilantro, and/or lime wedges to kick up the spice and texture.

Note: Beyond Meat has the same amount of protein as chicken, but zero cholesterol and zero saturated fat. Vegenaise tastes like mayonnaise but doesn’t have any cholesterol. If you serve a dollop of this curry salad on top of mixed greens, or in a sandwich stuffed with other fresh veggies, you’ll have a lunch that is fast, super healthy, and super good for you!

Beyond Meat can be found in Raley’s, Safeway, Target, Whole Foods, and local food co-op stores. Look in the freezer section.

Vegenaise can be found in Albertsons, Safeway, Whole Foods, and local food co-op stores. It will likely be on the shelves near the mayonnaise with animal products in it.


There’s Love in the Air!

By Lori Stultz, Communications Manager

Just in case you didn’t notice the red and pink balloons suffocating the candy aisle in the grocery stores, or the TV and radio commercials talking about the awesome sales for (fill in the blank for any business imaginable), it’s Valentine’s Day!

Thinking about this holiday in the context of veganism and helping animals, I decided to chat with a few people—couples and individuals—to hear their personal experiences of navigating romantic relationships as vegans. These stories vary widely, and my hope is that the overall takeaway from this post is the importance of openness, patience, and balance.

First, we’ll meet Linda Connell and her husband Dan. Linda is a new mentor for Vegan Outreach’s Vegan Mentor Program who, as a retiree, is doing a wonderful job spreading the word about helping animals.

Second, we’ll meet Vegan Outreach’s good friends, Andrew Zollman and his husband Pooran Panwar. And we’ll round it out with a couple of interviews, each featuring two wonderful members of the Vegan Outreach team—Outreach Coordinator Cristina Myers and her partner Haley Arlene, and Campaigns Manager Taylor Radig and her partner Ezra Michaels.

Let’s get started!

By Linda Connell, Guest Contributor

Linda and Dan Connell
Linda and Dan Connell

I became vegan because of two dogs who accidentally and magically found their way into my life. My love for them led me to question how I could eat morally equivalent animals. Over a year ago, after watching Mercy for Animals’ YouTube videos and Earthlings, I became vegan and have never looked back. And all because I had a couple of dogs.

What was actually a rather lengthy journey for me seemed like an overnight transformation to my half-Italian, meat-and-potato-loving husband of 27 years. One day Dan went to bed with an omnivore and woke up the following day next to a vegan. You can imagine his surprise! Dan does share a deep love of our dogs and for animals in general, and he was sympathetic from the start. In reality, it’s much more difficult for some people to transition to a vegan lifestyle than others. And people need to change at their own speed.

Our diet changes started immediately, and I focused not only on plant foods but on healthy options. I created plant-based meals without any processed foods and with lots of healthy vegetables. Early on, there were a lot of “new food” failures.

Looking back, our diet changes were too much and too fast. My husband and I are now a little kinder on ourselves, recognizing that we still sometimes need old familiar comfort food. So now we eat more meat substitutes, like Gardein Meatless Meatballs and pasta, Field Roast Frankfurters, and blueberry pancakes. And we’ve both compromised. Dan still uses parmesan cheese, egg-based mayo, and butter, but we don’t keep meat, milk, or eggs in the house.

We compromise for family visits as well. I’ll provide vegan food, and others can buy or bring their own non-vegan food. I’ve reached a point where I doubt I’ll ever agree to prepare an animal product for family or friends again. Eating out is Dan’s break from our vegan fare, but we always choose places with vegan options other than fries for me.

We have found that a vegan lifestyle can hold challenges beyond diet. Having become more comfortable with our diet changes, we have more recently taken on issues of tradition. Thanksgiving, for example. This last year, we offered up a vegan Thanksgiving. We carefully taste-tested every dish in advance. My husband is an excellent judge of vegan food for non-vegans! While we did have some family members agree to attend, it was disappointing that all of them found it necessary to have their own turkey dinner separately.

Another holiday tradition is grilling, which continues to be a man’s sport in our family. As recent retirees traveling in a fifth wheel RV trailer, we often grilled dinner outside surrounded by forest trees or crashing ocean waves. Dan still misses his grilled meat, but we have not given up the grill. Instead, we have replaced meat with grilled fruits, vegetables, and vegan meats. Who knew grilled eggplant was so good?

And very recently our travels led us to the first Whole Foods Market we’d ever been inside. We found Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger. It grilled up nicely, and Dan loved it.

Another tradition I previously shared with my husband is fishing. Both of us grew up fishing, and we eventually bought a boat and spent many hours together on the water with each other and our dogs. I no longer fish, but he still does. I occasionally go in the boat just to spend time with him and the dogs. Even this creates a moral discontinuity for me—one that I still need to internally resolve. Change takes time.

Buz and Gus
Buz and Gus

I recognize that many vegans feel they could not ethically live with a non-vegan spouse or partner. But I was not vegan when I married my husband. For me, marriage vows are also morally relevant—let alone the love we have developed during decades of sharing our lives together. Instead, we have compromised. And this is a win for animals, for my husband, and for myself. He eats way less meat, he eats healthier, and he supports me and shares in my vegan journey.

Plus, he is one more person spreading the word. He talks to his golfing buddies about the vegan lifestyle. And while this is sometimes humorous banter, it does expose a large number of non-vegans to the concept of a vegan diet. I took a homemade vegan cake to the golf clubhouse on his birthday, and it was completely consumed!

If your social life includes only other vegans, you greatly reduce your potential impact, and in some locations, you might be a lonely person. When our lives and activities include non-vegan spouses, partners, family, and friends, we have a much greater chance of sharing the joys of a vegan lifestyle.

By Andrew Zollman, Guest Contributor

Pooran Panwar and Andrew Zollman
Pooran Panwar and Andrew Zollman

I was raised in Alaska, and I feel that being immersed in nature and wilderness fostered a respect and love of animals and ecology—eventually helping with my interest in veganism. After moving to the Sacramento, CA area in the mid-80s, I stopped eating beef and pork, knowing that it was cruel and unhealthy. A few years later, I met a vegetarian who introduced me to more ethnically diverse foods and inspired me to experiment more with cooking and to become vegetarian.

After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in the 90s, I met a vegan who inspired me to also become vegan. That initially lasted only a couple of years, and I fell back into eating cheese occasionally. About 11 years ago, I made friends with another long-time vegan, whose support helped me to again become vegan. I started participating in animal activism, joining various protests, expanding a campaign against Gay Rodeo—that other gay activists had previously started—and launching a successful campaign against sales of live chickens and game birds that were being sold at nearby farmers’ markets. For more information about the campaigns visit the LGBT Compassion website.

In 2014, I met Pooran and he was immediately interested in learning more about veganism. He was not vegetarian himself but found that the vegan lifestyle aligned with his own values. He immediately began sharing and cooking vegan meals with me. He’s also been very supportive of my activism, joining in protests and leafleting activities, and teaching his friends and family about veganism, animal advocacy, and environmentalism.

Most of the other people I’ve dated were happy to share vegan food and learn about the benefits of veganism—and have made lasting changes to their diets and lifestyles—but having a vegan life partner who completely shares and understands my values and point of view is wonderful. Although there can be many benefits to being in a relationship with a non-vegan, I don’t think anyone should ever compromise their values just to avoid being alone.

Pooran and I married in April 2015. We adopted a cat, Shanti, who was abandoned and had serious health and emotional problems. She is happy and healthy now! We also have six rescued pigeons from Palomacy Pigeon Rescue, and now they live in an outdoor aviary.

Andrew Zollman and Shanti on Adoption Day
Shanti Today
Veera, Yeti, Smokey, Mr Vivian
Veera, Yeti, Smokey, and Mr. Vivian

Pooran and I like to cook, and we enjoy a wide variety of foods and cuisines. Pooran tends to prefer simple, healthy Indian-style dishes. He bases his meals mostly on vegetables, legumes, and rice, and he improvises based on what he learned as a child in India watching his mother cook. He also likes simple and healthy Asian-style dishes, which I cook.

Breakfast is usually simple oatmeal or cereal, and sometimes scrambled “eggs” with Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg. A few of our other quick and healthy go-to meals are soups, bowls of seasoned quinoa with kale and assorted vegetables, and whole-grain pasta tossed with garlic, olive oil, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and capers. We also make smoothies, muffins, brownies, tiramisu, and cashew-based cheesecakes.

Being from a white, middle-America background, I often enjoy veganized “comfort foods,” made with vegan meats and cheeses. I make Italian-style dishes, like lasagna and pizza, and pies. Pooran never developed a taste for these, though he sometimes eats them to humor me.

Our favorite Bay Area restaurants are Sanctuary Bistro, Cha-Ya, Golden Era, and Veggie Grill. Pooran is currently living in Stockholm, Sweden for work, and last August we explored most of the vegan restaurants there together—Hermans Vegetarian Restaurant and Garden Café were amazing! We also recently explored most of the vegan restaurants in Los Angeles, CA, and we plan to explore more places and restaurants soon.

Pooran and I enjoy gardening, and we’re working toward growing more of our own food since we moved into a house with gardening space. We like to visit and support animal sanctuaries, too—we’ve been to PreetiRang Sanctuary and Animal Place, and we’ve visited Palomacy’s Pigeon Rescue at Ploughshares Nursery.

Interview with Outreach Coordinator Cristina Myers

Cristina Myers and Haley Arlene
Cristina Myers and Haley Arlene

Lori Stultz: When and how did you meet, and how long have you been together?

Cristina Myers: Haley and I met this past Christmas Day at a volunteer event entertaining foster kids. We were so nervous when we saw each other that neither one of us knew how to start up a conversation, so we let the people around us take over. Hours later we were wrapping up the event and we exchanged Instagram names before she left. Haley immediately sent me a message and I had a huge stupid smile on my face on the drive home. We texted all day and she asked if I wanted to go to the movies that night. Of course, I said yes.

When she was dropping me off at home after the movie, I didn’t want her to go yet. I asked her if she wanted to talk on the dock on the water canal I live on—we talked until 3 am. When we finally hugged goodbye, she stole a kiss from me and drove off.

We pretty much have been together every day since then. We’ve been together a month now. You caught us in the beginning of something amazing.

Lori: Were you both vegan when you started dating? If not, what sparked the shift?

Cristina: I had already been vegan for 5 years, and I initially made the change for health reasons. It was later I made the connection with animals.

When I met Haley, she had been a vegetarian on and off—she lacked the information to keep going with it. But I was happy to help! She’s been vegan ever since we’ve met.

Lori: What forms of activism do you do together?

Cristina: Since we’ve been together, Haley has joined me protesting in front of the Miami Seaquarium—informing visitors about the animal cruelty via leafleting and signs. We’ve also hosted several events, both in and out of the state of Florida, to help feed people who are homeless.

Lori: Do you two cook together frequently? What are your favorite things to cook?

Cristina: We cook frequently together and it’s mostly Haley taking over the kitchen. She’s hit the ground running as a vegan chef, and our favorite meal has to be the tacos we fix on Taco Tuesday. We like to invite friends—both vegan and omnivore—to join. Haley’s tacos are always a success.

Lori: What’s your favorite restaurant to go together?

Cristina: Our favorite restaurant without a doubt is Screaming Carrots in Hallandale Beach, FL.

Lori: Do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day? If so, what are your plans to celebrate?

Cristina: We don’t plan on celebrating Valentine’s Day just because it’s felt like it’s been Valentine’s Day for us since day one.

Lori: What would your advice be to an omnivore/vegan couple that doesn’t see eye to eye when it comes to living a vegan lifestyle?

Cristina: Everyone has a different story, a different message in life. We’re no one to tell a couple what they should do besides to treat each other with respect and time will sort everything out. Every vegan knows how hard it is to be around people you love and they just don’t or won’t understand the lifestyle, but a quote that’s always helped me is…

Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. You can not turn away. Your destiny is bound to the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors. -Andrew Boyd

Interview with Campaigns Manager Taylor Radig and partner Ezra Michaels

Ezra Michaels and Taylor Radig
Ezra Michaels and Taylor Radig

Lori Stultz: When and how did you meet, and how long have you been together?

Ezra Michaels: We met at a mutual friend’s vegan Thanksgiving dinner in 2015. I had just gotten stuck in Denver, CO after my car broke down while attempting to dirtbag rock climb the West (that is, live on the road doing full-time climbing). I most definitely spent the entire dinner admiring and appreciating the kind, gentle, beautiful human that is Taylor Radig and by the end of the meal had determined that I really wanted to get to know her.

Fortunately for me, she secured that opportunity by inviting me to stay with her and her roommates for a couple weeks until I got my car fixed. There was certainly a lot of attraction and growing feelings on both sides as we spent more and more time together.

However, given each of our life circumstances at the time, we attempted for over 4 months to remain “just friends.” One day, Taylor playfully tackled me to tell me she wanted to be together. Of course, at this point, I gladfully decided to stay in Denver. That was on April 10, 2016—so almost a year!

Lori: Were you both vegan when you started dating? If not, what sparked the shift?

Taylor Radig: We were! Ezra had already been vegan for almost two years, and I’d been vegan for 9 years. Not everyone at that vegan Thanksgiving dinner was vegan, and I distinctly remember staring at Ezra from across the table thinking to myself, “Gosh, I hope this cute person is vegan.” Like many single vegans chatting with others, when I found out they were vegan I definitely screamed a little on the inside.

*Ezra is gender queer and uses gender neutral pronouns (they/them).

Lori: What forms of activism do you do together?

Taylor: Ezra and I love attending benefits for animal protection groups together, but most of the activism we do together is centered around racial justice—stopping police brutality—and supporting the queer community.

We’ve been involved with our local chapter of SURJ—Showing Up for Racial Justice—a national network organizing white folks and other privileged people to speak out about racial justice. We also love SOL—Survivors Organizing for Liberation—a local nonprofit that works to create a safer world for the queer community.

Using our privilege to advocate for marginalized communities is something we both want to center our lives around and we’re constantly pushing one another to live into that.

Lori: Do you two cook together frequently? What are your favorite things to cook?

Taylor: We actually don’t cook together very often. Ezra and I very quickly learned that our eating habits couldn’t be more different. I mostly eat salad, anything with beans, and don’t use oil when I cook. Ezra is much more physically active than I am and eats a lot of pasta, vegan bacon, potatoes, and waffles (Ezra is laughing while I write this).

However, we both have a mutual love for tacos! Typically, we’ll make them with jackfruit or Tofurky’s Ground Beef vegan meat. We top them off with onion, cilantro, guacamole, and a heavy squeeze of lime!

Ezra: Yeah, we don’t really cook together on a daily basis. Sometimes we’ll start cooking around the same time, then two minutes later Taylor is finished cooking and already halfway through eating whatever she’s made while I’ve barely begun.

On occasion, we have some fun date nights attempting to make vegan hard cheeses, seitan, and recently cauliflower wings!

Lori: What’s your favorite restaurant to go together?

Taylor: We absolutely love WaterCourse Foods and Handy Diner! For the most part, Ezra and I take pride in cooking mostly at home, but we also love to support local vegan restaurants! We’re both obsessed with WaterCourse’s fried buffalo cauliflower wings with ranch—I’m drooling just thinking about them!

Our favorite breakfast burrito is from Handy Diner, a small diner we love for their food and dedication to keeping vegan food affordable.

Lori: What’s your favorite activity to do together?

Ezra: If we could spend time doing any one thing other than activism it would be scuba diving! Scuba diving allows you to see a part of the world rarely seen. We just got back from diving in Belize—one of the best places to dive in the world—and we were able to explore the Belizean barrier reef. One of our favorite aspects of diving is all of the wildlife you get to see! We had the chance to swim alongside curious sharks, huge schools of colorful fish, stingrays, and turtles!

Taylor Radig and Ezra Michaels Scuba Diving
Taylor Radig and Ezra Michaels Scuba Diving

Lori: Do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day? If so, what are your plans to celebrate?

Taylor: WaterCourse is offering a special coursed Valentine’s Day dinner we’re hoping to go to! Part of what’s so great about dating Ezra is that we both see relationships as a beautiful opportunity for growth. We’ve planned to spend the rest of the night playing silly couple questionnaire games that help us not only learn more about one another but love each other better.

If you’ve never done this with your partner before, I highly recommend this one!

Lori: What would your advice be to an omnivore/vegan couple that doesn’t see eye to eye when it comes to living a vegan lifestyle?

Taylor: I think that there are countless reasons for falling in love with someone and for me, being vegan is just one of those reasons. My advice for an omni/vegan couple would be to ensure that you each agree on healthy and respectful boundaries in relation to your diets. In my experience, the people I’ve dated who weren’t vegan always chose to eat vegetarian—and mostly vegan—when we ate together. Suddenly their diets changed to being about 80% vegan and it showed them how delicious eating vegan really is. Although I don’t advocate for “vegan missionary dating,” I will say that eating mostly vegan is better than nothing, especially for the animals.


Valentine’s Day Treat — Frozen Chocolate Pies

By Lori Stultz, Communications Manager

Frozen Choc Pies

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with that special someone, a group of friends, your dog or cat, or completely alone—no judgment, seriously—this delicious treat will certainly make your day a little sweeter.

This is my own version of these No Bake Mini Chocolate Raspberry Pies. I used a few “accidentally vegan” favs—Oreos and Skittles—and added a touch of coconut.

Intrigued? Good! You won’t be disappointed.

Frozen Chocolate Pies

Yields 6 pies.

Ingredients

  • 12 Oreo Cookies
  • 2-2 ½ tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 package dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)
  • 1 package of Skittles (red Skittles picked out and set aside)
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Place the Oreos in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and crunch the cookies (using your hands or fists) into small crumbs.
  2. Measure the coconut oil into a small pan and place over low heat until the oil is melted.
  3. Pour the melted coconut oil into the Ziploc bag and shake the bag until all the crumbs are covered in oil.
  4. Place 6 muffin tin liners in a muffin tin and spoon the crumb mixture evenly into each lined cup. Pack the crumb mixture down with a spoon—make sure it’s packed down nice and tight!
  5. Pour the package of chocolate chips into a small pan and place over low heat. Stir continuously until the chocolate is completely melted.
  6. Divide and pour the melted chocolate over the packed crumb mixture into each lined cup.
  7. Sprinkle the Skittles and coconut flakes as toppings as desired.
  8. Place in the freezer for 4-5 hours. Enjoy!

Recipe Tips/Variations

  • If the chocolate does not melt into a smooth consistency, add a tablespoon or two of oil and stir.
  • The candy and coconut are by no means required—feel free to add whatever toppings you want to make the chocolate pies festive and fun!

Part I: Tech Trends That Are Changing the World for Animals—for the Better!

By Jen Bravo, Guest Contributor

Many of us just couldn’t wait for 2016 to be over, and now 2017 is off to a rocky start as well. What better way to cheer ourselves up than to take a peek at some technology trends that are revolutionizing the world for animals?

 Beyond Meat
Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger (Photo: Beyond Meat)

Trend #1: The Future of Protein

Imagine a world in which factory farming no longer exists, and we can feed the world high-quality protein with minimal inputs of energy, water, fertilizer, and no antibiotics! A world in which the suffering and environmental destruction inherent in factory farming is a thing of the past. This world is not as far off as you might think, thanks to advancements in cellular agriculture.

Over the past few years, innovators have been leveraging tissue engineering, synthetic biology, bioengineering, and materials science to grow or replicate factory farmed products—such as meat and dairy—in a laboratory setting. You may have heard of the Impossible Burger, Hungry Planet’s Range-Free™ burger, and Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger—which is now supported by an investment from Tyson Foods—and these are just the beginning!

New Harvest is accelerating the development of “milk without cows, eggs without hens, and beef without cows,” and the Good Food Institute is supporting early-stage and established companies to develop and market “clean meat” and plant-based proteins.

There are a number of start-ups, ranging from Memphis Meats, a San Francisco-based company growing meat from animal cells, to SuperMeat, which just completed a successful Indiegogo campaign in September 2016 and is focusing on a cultured chicken product.

Perfect Day Foods—which produces cow’s milk using yeast—are pushing the envelope at the forefront of the animal-free food revolution.

The good news is that as these technologies improve and demand increases, costs will come down, making these animal-free choices the frugal and environmentally-sustainable choice as well.

VR
Virtual Reality (Photo: Wikimedia)

Trend #2: Virtual Entertainment & Immersive Experiences

Technology won’t just change how we eat—it will change how we relate to animals, learn about them, and are entertained by them. You may remember 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes? It was lauded by animal advocates for being the first live-action film to not only tell the story from the point of view of a sentient, non-human animal, but to use only computer-generated images to do so. Well, 2011 seems like forever ago, considering what we can now do using virtual reality (VR).

Imagine swimming with dolphins, experiencing the Great Migration across the plains of the Serengeti, or spending time with a family of mountain gorillas, all without exploiting living animals. Imagine classes of students experiencing coral reefs or rain forests, full of vibrant plants and animals, rather than a zoo or aquarium with captive animals.

VR will revolutionize how we educate children about the natural world, enabling them to immerse themselves in ecosystems without damaging them. And VR will enable those who would never otherwise be able to travel the globe to experience these animals in an immersive way.

VR will also enable even greater education about the plight of animals trapped in our modern food system. Animal Equality’s VR iAnimal brings people inside factory farms—and we believe that’s just the beginning. As Forbes contributor Ross Gerber wrote last month, virtual reality, “will make an exponentially larger imprint on society, transcending gaming and having the potential to touch on everything from education, sports, entertainment, and medicine. The obstacle right now is the price.…”

But as with so many technologies that were prohibitively expensive in their first few years, VR hardware will come down in price and its easily scalable content will soon become ubiquitous.

Next week, in Part 2, we’ll talk about ending animal testing and how drones and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing anti-poaching and conservation efforts. So be sure to stay tuned!


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pudding

By Wendy Gabbe Day, Guest Contributor

Wendy Gabbe Day

Wendy Gabbe Day is a proud mama of two vegan kids, the author of Scatter Vegan Sweets, a vegan cooking instructor, food blogger at Lively Days, co-producer of Vegan: Everyday Stories, and former coordinator of Portland, OR’s annual VegFest. Wendy has been vegetarian since birth and a vegan since the age of five. She played Division 1 college basketball at the University of California, Irvine and loves to be outdoors and active with her family in Northern California.

Raising Vegan Kids — Sneaking in Extra Beans!

I love sneaking extra beans into my kids’ meals and snacks when they least expect them. Did you know that beans are nutritional powerhouses? They’re packed with protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and much more!

I often blend navy beans into pasta sauce and serve it over noodles and veggies. If you enjoy baking, the addition of garbanzo bean flour creates a nice texture—here’s my go-to banana bread. And I’ve even mashed navy beans into my kids’ oatmeal. Shhh, don’t tell!

My kids love it when I whip up a batch of this protein-rich, date-sweetened pudding for dessert—or breakfast! We dip apple slices into it or eat it by the spoonful. It’s an easy way to incorporate more beans into everyone’s diet! Thank you to Chocolate Covered Katie for inspiring this creation.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pudding 1

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pudding

Yields about 3 cups.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked navy beans (or other white beans)
  • ⅔ cup dates (pitted)
  • ½ cup water
  • ⅓ cup peanut butter, or other nut butter (also see Recipe Tips/Variations below)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Dash of salt
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips (or raisins)

Directions

  1. Place all the ingredients except chocolate chips (or raisins) in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy—scraping down the sides as needed. Add more water if needed for a smoother texture.
  2. Spoon the pudding into a bowl and stir in chocolate chips (or raisins).
  3. Pudding will firm up in the refrigerator.

Recipe Tips/Variations

  • For a nut-free version, coconut butter works nicely.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pudding 2


Supporting Animal Advocacy in Style

By Alex Bury, Organizational Development Consultant

The internet was not fully recognized as a real thing until the release of the video “Shoes,” by Liam Kyle Sullivan, in 2006. 60 million views later and here we are wondering just how much the internet influenced the last election.

Shoes
Warning: Silly Video with Profanity—Viewer Discretion Advised

We count on the internet to spread the word about animal suffering so more people will consider going veg. We hate the internet when it invades our privacy, or gives power to hate groups. We love it for our social justice activism, shopping, and personal connections.

Meanwhile, I still can’t have a discussion about footwear without humming that song.

Gerardo Tristan is the Director and founder of FaunAcción. We met him in person at the Whidbey Island Intersectional Justice Conference last spring—he was one of the activists Vegan Outreach was thrilled to support with a no-strings-attached grant.

FaunAcción recently hosted their second anti-speciesist forum. They met with the Mexican Congress after spending a full day in Mexico City inspiring and training animal activists. You can read more about FaunAcción below in the article by Lizbeth Muñoz López.

Gerardo contacted me not too long ago and told me about an easy way to support FaunAcción’s work. You can probably imagine how excited I got when he told me that I could support the organization by shopping for shoes. Yes, shoes.

Cue the music.

Ecu

Ecu

Ecü is a new shoe company based in Mexico. Their shoes are vegan, sustainable, ethically made—read Lizbeth’s article below for details on that—and 20% of their sales are being donated to FaunAcción!

I ordered myself a pair right after Gerardo filled me in—while humming the Shoes song—and they arrived from Mexico to northern California in less than a week.

Full disclosure—I mostly ordered them to support a new vegan company and FaunAcción. I figured if I didn’t like them I could give them to a friend.

Sorry, friends. I love them. I’m keeping them! I love the look, the way they fit, and the soft and padded soles. I wear them all the time now, and they hardly show any signs of wear and tear. I’ve received multiple compliments.

Ecu

If you’re in the market for new shoes, please take a minute to check out the website to see if they have something you like. You’ll end up with a great pair of shoes while supporting a great nonprofit and an awesome new vegan company!

Even before doing that, I think it’s important you learn more about the good people behind FaunAcción and what they’re doing as an organization. Gerardo was kind enough to translate a great write up about the organization, written by FaunAcción’s Projects and Campaigns Coordinator, Lizbeth Muñoz López.

FaunAccion Yellow Logo

FaunAcción

By Lizbeth Muñoz López, Translated by Gerardo Tristan

Nowadays, people are becoming more conscious about the companies they’re buying goods from. They’re considering how their purchases are affecting others—such as the laborers—the planet, and the ecosystems. This growth is an incentive for companies to produce goods that are sustainable and to have a social mission. Mexico is no exception to this trend.

My name is Lizbeth Muñoz López, activist for the rights of non-human animals for more than 15 years. I have been vegetarian since 2002 and vegan since 2013. My anti-speciesist views and sense of justice have compelled me to support diverse struggles. Intersectionality, using an anti-speciesist and decolonial framework, has helped me a lot over the years in joining and supporting multiple social justice issues.

Currently, I’m the Projects and Campaigns Coordinator for FaunAcción, a Mexican organization dedicated to teach, train, and share useful tools with activists, especially animal right activists. We work with activists so they can feel more empowered in their struggles, be more effective in changing oppressive realities, and help non-human and human animals.

As a professional in the areas of human rights and health sciences, I share the objectives, ideals, mission, and vision of FaunAcción. I recognize the importance—of both the Mexican and international animal rights movement—to have an organization that is run by Mexicans and for Mexicans.

At FaunAcción, we are busy working on four different projects that focus on empowering activists and changing/working with national institutions. Our projects include:

  • An intensive workshop on political participation to prepare ourselves as activists for the 2018 Mexican federal elections.
  • Implementation of a pilot program using a textbook with anti-speciesist content. The textbook has been created for elementary through high school-aged students.
  • Designing a vegan, traditional Mexican food cookbook. The recipes will be cheap, easy to make, nutritious, and will use food staples that every Mexican family has in their home. We want this book to be available and free for all.
  • Organizing two high media impact debates on zoos and bullfighting so we can give momentum to the campaigns that are gearing up to eliminate both forms of animal abuse.
Presenters and Organizers of FaunAcción’s Second Anti-Speciesist Forum in Mexico City
FaunAccion 4
Animal Rights Activists Talking About the Challenges of Animal Rights Activism at the Second Anti-Speciesist Forum.
“Taquiza”—Vegan Taco Buffet—Prepared for Forum Participants

These are some of the more important projects we are working on, but we have many more projects and campaigns in the works.

Mexico is an extraordinarily rich and diverse country, but unequal and poor due to corruption and a lack of transparency from local and national governments. Despite this harsh reality, we are a country of people with a high sense of solidarity, enthusiasm, creativity, and compassion.

Ecü

Ecu 6

Young people are now leading Mexico and they’re turning to veganism, sustainability, and civil engagement in droves. This is the case of Farid Dieck Kattas, colleague and counselor on sustainability in FaunAcción.

Farid co-founded a business that makes vegan, sustainable, and socially responsible shoes. Ecü shoes use tires that are in landfills and recycles them for the soles of the shoes. The company hires indigenous women that come to Monterrey looking for work. These women make the bags the shoes come in.

Ecü is a very young company—born in the summer of 2016. The company’s objective is promoting responsible, conscious, ethical consumer goods among Mexican youth.

Farid and his business partner, Daniel Noroña, believe that change starts with individual actions that seek a common good for Mexico, non-human and human animals, and our planet. They hope to generate change with these shoes and to set a precedent for sustainable and ethical products in Mexico.

We are very happy that Ecü supports FaunAcción! With each sale in the United States, Ecü donates 20% of the proceeds to FaunAcción.

Please help support animal rights in Mexico and FaunAcción by purchasing a pair of beautiful vegan shoes and by telling your friends and family members about Ecü and FaunAcción.


Jan ’17 Winner: The Vegan Way Giveaway

By Lori Stultz, Communications Manager

Vegan_Way_Book_Cover

Congratulations to Alicia Hamby, winner of The Vegan Way giveaway! Bailey, I don’t doubt the book will be a wonderful and inspiring resource!

A huge thank you to Jackie Day for her collaboration!

Next up—delicious, authentic Mexican food! February’s giveaway is going to fantastic!

By subscribing to our weekly E-Newsletter and bi-weekly Living and Advocacy blog you’ll be the first to hear about our monthly giveaways! Trust us, you won’t regret it!


Video: PB & J Stuffed French Toast

By Lori Stultz, Communications Manager

What do you get when you combine your favorite childhood lunch with a weekend breakfast favorite?

Peanut Butter and Jelly Stuffed French Toast!

Get your skillets ready and be prepared for the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Thanks to Kim Sujovolsky at Brownble, you’re going to have a new favorite breakfast meal!

PB & J STUFFED FrENCH TOAST

PB & J Stuffed French Toast

Yields 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 ½ cups non-dairy milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 slices of your favorite sandwich bread
  • 6 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 6 tablespoons of your favorite jam or jelly
  • A bit of oil or non-dairy butter for the pan

For Serving

  • Fresh fruit (optional)
  • Maple syrup

Directions

  1. Whisk together the ground flaxseeds and water in a small bowl. Set it aside and let it become thick, like a gel.
  2. In a deep dish, whisk together the milk, salt, flour, and vanilla.
  3. Add the flaxseed gel to the milk mixture and whisk until combined.
  4. Make your peanut butter and jelly “sandwiches” by adding some peanut butter and jelly or jam to one piece of bread and then topping it with another piece of bread. Do it just like you were making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You’ll have 4 sandwiches total.
  5. Heat a very non-stick pan on medium-high heat and coat it with the oil or non-dairy butter.
  6. Place a sandwich in the batter and let it soak in some of the liquid, turning it a couple of times. Then immediately transfer it to the hot pan.
  7. Cook until golden and then flip. Remove from the pan when golden on both sides.
  8. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches or do them all at once in an electric griddle or on multiple pans.
  9. Cut them in half, arrange them on a plate, and top with fresh fruit, if desired, and some maple syrup. Enjoy!